Do These DIYs: Cooling the Home with Less Energy

Stills from the 1959 Twilight Zone episode "Midnight Sun".
As the thermometer dial climbs in the North Country this summer, we can only imagine what you city dwellers downstate and across the country are dealing with. But instead of automatically flicking on the AC the next time temperatures hit 80, consider using one of these easy DIY tricks instead—and save the big guns for the next extreme heat wave.

Homemade AC Designs
The folks over at the Good Survivalist have come up with a genius way to make a $454 air conditioner for about $15. Keeping your home cool in the summer can be very expensive if you use your air conditioner. This air conditioner is very simple to make, and can be made in a few minutes if your are handy.

Even if you are not handy you’ll be able to make one of these DIY air conditioners. One of the nice things about this air conditioner is that it will give you up to 6 hours of coolness. This thing works so well you may need to put on a sweatshirt! To make one of these babies you need a few simple tools, a couple of 5 gallon buckets, along with a few other items. Everything is shown in the video:

The crew at Snapguide has an alternative design, this one using a Styrofoam cooler:
Here's a great list of great, cooling life hacks anyone can do at home or work as alternatives to actual air conditioners, as gleaned from Life Hacker:
  • Create a Makeshift Air Conditioner—If you don't have an air conditioner, hopefully you have a fan. On its own, however, a fan isn't always sufficiently cooling. If your home is a hot air trap, blowing that hot air around isn't going to help much. Instead of just running the fan and hoping for the best, take a shallow bowl and fill it with ice. Place the bowl in front of the fan and as the ice evaporates, it will cool the air. 
  • Cool Your Drapes—If it isn't hotter outside than it is in your home, you've probably cracked a window already to at least cool things down a little bit. If you're finding an open window isn't sufficient, spray a sheet with cold water and use it to cover the window's opening. As the breeze passes through, the cold and damp sheet will cool it bringing in chilled air and further helping to reduce the temperature in your home. 
  • Schedule Your Windows—If all you have are windows to work with, you can still use them to your advantage. While the difference is more significant in arid environments, the temperature outdoors cools at night, and that's the air you want to let into your home. If you keep your windows closed while the sun is up and open them while the sun is down, you can trap the cooler air in your home and keep the temperature a few degrees lower. Even better: Set up a couple of inexpensive box fans in windows on opposite sides of a room to create a nice through-breeze. 
  • Do Nothing—Much of the heat in your home comes from heat-generating sources within it. If you avoid generating large amounts of heat you won't have as much of a need to cool. Things like air drying your clothes, skipping the dry cycle on your dishwasher, and turning off your computer(s) when they aren't in use are all good ways to keep the temperature down.

Nicole Caldwell

Nicole Caldwell is a self-taught environmentalist, green-living savant and sustainability educator with more than a decade of professional writing experience. She is also the co-founder of Better Farm and president of betterArts. Nicole’s work has been featured in Mother Earth News, Reader’s Digest, Time Out New York, and many other publications. Her first book, Better: The Everyday Art of Sustainable Living, is due out this July through New Society Publishers.